Overton Steps In, Leads OU to 16-0

NORMAN, Okla. – The No. 2 baseball team has arguably the best offense in the nation, but the Sooners could only put together seven hits and two runs Saturday against the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans.

But that's what's funny about baseball: sometimes two runs is enough.

OU defeated the Trojans 2-1 to improve to 16-0 despite failing to convert with the bases loaded twice and runners in scoring position on multiple other occasions and pulling its starting pitcher after just one inning.

Senior pitcher Bobby Shore struggled locating his pitches in the first inning after allowing a solo homer to the game's first batter, which was UALR's only run of the game. So, head coach Sunny Golloway opted to pull the senior and bring in freshman lefty Dillon Overton.

And boy did that decision work out.

Overton threw 6 2/3 innings of scoreless, five-hit ball to lower his ERA to 0.85, locating his fastball on the corners and bending in a dirty breaking ball that kept Trojan batters off balanced all day.

"Going into today I heard from a lot of other people I wasn't going to start until next Tuesday in Arizona," the freshman southpaw said. "But it was just the luck of the draw thing. So I did my best and I went out there and threw strikes."

And like the pitching staff, the offense had to rely on one guy to bring in the Sooners' only runs.

Junior right fielder Cody Reine brought in two runs without recording a hit. He was hit by a pitch – marking the 14th game this year that an OU batter has been hit – with the bases loaded to drive in the game-tying run and knocked in the second run on an error to bring in the game-winning run in the eighth inning.

"It feels good, but I would have liked to get a hit there in the fifth inning [with the bases loaded]," Reine said. "It happened the way it happened, and we still came out victorious."

The game-winning run was set up when pinch runner Erik Ross went from first to third on an errant pick off attempt that forced the infield to play in.

"It took a lot of nerves off," Reine said. "When it came to that I knew just to get the ball in play and good things would happen."

Junior closer Ryan Duke was the final piece of the puzzle in Saturday's victory.

He pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to record his first win of the season and 14th of his career after having to miss the first 15 games due to a suspension for violating team rules.

Duke was brought into the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth inning of a tied game, and three pitches later he was sitting in the dugout with the game still tied after getting the batter to hit a lazy fly out to right field.

Duke remains one save away from setting the OU career saves record. He current sits on 28 saves.

The Sooners and Trojans complete their series at 1 p.m. Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Junior pitcher Burch Smith will be on the bump for OU.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories